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Six Stress Reduction Tips for Small Business Owners

The common denominator in reducing stress, regardless of which type it is, is a balanced workout program. Moderate exercise, such as walking, is the key to overcoming the negativity and fatigue that so often accompany every type of stress.

Here are the six kinds of stress and some additional prescriptions for reducing each of them.

#1: Emotional Stress

A recent study found that three quarters of Americans experience significant emotional stress weekly. When we're undergoing emotional stress, our hormones get out of balance. Cortisol levels go up and DHEA levels go down; the coping hormones get depressed and the pleasure hormones don't get released.

What to do about it: Respond with calmness. Acknowledge that a seemingly overwhelming task will get done in small acts that add up to a big result, like planting a field of corn one kernel at a time. Another solution is to clear your mind with laughter. Laughing almost instantly clears away emotional stress, like a defroster on a windshield.

#2: Sleep Deprivation–Induced Stress
Sleep is a natural medicine, pure and simple. But without adequate levels of restorative sleep, our bodies release cortisol, which sets up a stress cycle and causes a disruption in the sleep we do get.

What to do about it: To address mild insomnia, reduce your caffeine consumption. Avoid big meals late in the day, which can set up blood sugar swings and wake you up when insulin is overdoing its job. Keep alcohol consumption in the healthy zone--one drink a night. And finally, when your head hits the pillow, go over each of the day's events and as you do, send it into an imaginary circle located outside your body, just in front of your heart. This helps you prepare for deep sleep without replaying your day over and over.

#3: Dietary Stress
An unbalanced diet causes stress in the body. So does eating too little or too much, which can disrupt your digestive system and hinder your body's ability to recover from physical exertion or even a day of overwork at the office.

What to do about it: Let your dietary habits be an antidote to, not a stimulator of, stress. Avoid simple sugars and choose carbohydrates that are from whole grains, fresh vegetables, and small amounts of fruit. Cut back on or cut out caffeine. Add some healthy oils--like cold-pressed olive oil or omega 3 fish oil--to help balance your hormones. Eat a healthy amount of protein, which helps build muscle and counters the effects of too many carbs. And eat a good breakfast within an hour of waking, and then frequent small meals every 3-4 hours.

#4: Physical Stress
This kind of stress typically occurs from exerting yourself too much in a workout, but it also affects those who have the type of job that demands a lot physically, such as a construction worker, landscaper, or waiter.

What to do about it: Be mindful of the symptoms: irritability, inability to sleep, loss of appetite, overall fatigue that lasts 2-3 days, chronic muscle soreness, lack of motivation, injury, and illness. The key to combating physical stress is to get stronger, but to build up strength in a slow, steady, balanced way. See chapter 5 of our book, Fit Soul, Fit Body, to learn how to customize a conditioning program that addresses your particular habits, lifestyle challenges, and symptoms.

#5: Chemical Stress
Chemical stress occurs when your body has to get rid of compounds that are harmful or toxic to it. Most such toxins come from the external environment--everything from the air you breathe, to the water and food you eat, to the home and office you inhabit.

What to do about it: Eliminate caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and chemical-laden processed foods. Eat foods grown without insecticides. Drink purified water. Clean up your inside air with an air filter and fresh outside air. Use natural cleaners. Avoid personal care products that are synthetic and laden with unknown chemicals. Being a conscientious consumer will help you overcome most chemical sensitivities.

#6: Inflammation-Induced Stress
Inflammation is a side effect of stress, but it's also a promoter of stress on the body. Inflammation comes from a number of things, including working out too hard, eating a poor diet, being overweight, and not getting enough omega 3 in the diet.

What to do about it: Balance your fat intake. Reduce saturated fats and oils while increasing your intake of omega 3 oils (fish oil, beans, walnuts, flaxseed, olive oil). Get consistent, moderate-heart-rate exercise to burn excess fat stored in your body, if this is an issue. Limit your intake of carbohydrates. Omit foods from your diet that make you feel tired, weak, or bloated after eating them, or that give you negative reactions, such as itchy skin or a stuffy nose. The most common culprits are shellfish, meat, eggs, dairy, soy, wheat, some fruits, and nuts.

Check out this video for more stress busting tips:



Shaman-healer Brant Secunda and legendary world champion Ironman Mark Allen are body-soul fitness experts known for blending ancient shamanic wisdom with the latest scientific findings on nutrition, fitness, mood, and stress, and turning them into fresh tips and advice for improving health and well-being. Their new book is Fit Soul, Fit Body: 9 Keys to Healthier, Happier You. You can visit them online at www.fitsoul-fitbody.com.
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Survey: Virtual Offices Offer Competitive Advantage

More businesses are tapping into virtual offices to help them reign in costs. So says a new financial study from the Office Business Center Association International.

The OBCAI survey found that virtual offices offer everything small business owners and entrepreneurs need to conduct business in a professional setting from a permanent mailing address and phone number to call answering services and administrative support to on-demand meeting rooms and various other business services. What’s more, the survey found that virtual offices provide all this for a fraction of the cost of a full-time office space—and do so without harming productivity or image.

"Coworking or virtual space has been the largest growth component of our industry over the past five years,” says Carolina Rendeiro, president of OBCAI. “Most noticeably during the past two years of the global economic downturn; it was the ideal solution for start-ups and companies right-sizing. The virtual office provided a great ROI for these groups, and in turn, for the office business center."

Rendeiro is pointing to numbers that show 18.3 percent virtual office growth in 2009 compared to 7.8 percent growth in 2008. OBCAI credits the impact of the late 2007 recession on businesses, a shift in workplace habits and preferences, as well as the growth of inexpensive enabling technologies, with driving the uptick.

Davinci Virtual Office Solutions helped OBCAI with some statistics. Our virtual working data show that more than two-thirds of U.S. workers are engaged in some virtual work, 46 percent engage in virtual work at least once a week and 14 percent do so daily. The vast majority (91 percent) agree that virtual work saves their companies time and money.
OBCAI also came to some additional conclusions:

  • For years virtual office clients were typically small companies needing a professional front face to appear larger with a business address and receptionist to answer their calls. After the economic downturn the concept's appeal gained ground for business professionals.

  • While the virtual office concept is nothing new, its current application is. Today, the virtual office is the workplace of choice for a number of forward thinking business people.

  • The greatest benefit, especially in the current market environment, is that there is zero out-of-pocket expense and no risk or variable costs involved, including administrative support that's flexible with business needs.

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How Your Small Business Should Deal With Late Payments

If your small business has been open any length of time, you’ve already had to face the unfortunate reality of late payments—or no payment at all.

About 40 percent of firms the National Federation of Independent Businesses Surveyed say receivables—money the are owed—is coming in late. That can cause plenty of pain for a small business owners that depends on regular cash flow to keep the ship afloat.

So how you can you deal with late paying clients? You can get proactive up front, and also follow up  with penalties on the back end, to discourage clients from paying late. Here are a few tips:

1. Be crystal clear about terms.
Be sure to spell out your payment terms on your invoice and other related paperwork, such as contracts, estimates, statements of work, etc.  If you expect a deposit up front, make it clear. If you need to be paid in increments, print it out. If you need payments within 30 days, say so. Put it in writing.

2.Charge interest for late payments.
You can put a note on all your invoices that late payments will be assessed interest at the current bank rates. In this case, the payment would be due within 30 days of billing in order to avoid the late charge.

3. Offer an early bird discount.
Offer to take 5 percent of the cost off of the project for paying on time. This is the opposite approach to charging late fees, but it can be an incentive for clients to pay early.

4. Know who to invoice.
It’s not always the best route to invoice the actual person at the client company with whom you work. You need a contact in accounts payable to be sure your invoice is landing in the hands of someone who can actually cut a check.

5. When the payment is late…
Don’t wait more than three days to reach out and inquire about the payment.

6. Contact an attorney.
Pre-paid legal services typically allow you to get an attorney to write a demand letter for free as part of a small monthly fee to the firm. The fee can range from $15 to $30 and can also come in handy for reviewing contracts and other small business services that come as part of the subscription package.

Check out this YouTube video for more tips on dealing with late payments:

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Career Approval Comes From Within

Most people look for approval from the outside. They want to feel good about their choices and career path. They want validation that they are doing the right things at the right time and are being understood and respected for their decisions. After all, who doesn't want to hear the sound of applause or cheers due to their efforts? The truth is approval makes us feel better about ourselves.

Approval becomes a problem when you need it too much. Or, when it holds you back because you can't move forward without it. Many people believe approval means they are loved and accepted; words that make them feel warm and fuzzy inside.

True approval comes from you; your inside opinion and view of what you are doing and where you are headed. Outside views may give you validation, but inside approval gives you peace, calm, and a sense of direction.

So how do you give yourself career approval? Follow these 3 steps:

1. Ask Yourself What Would Make You Happy In Your Career

Write your answer down. List the duties you wish you were performing. The environment you wish you were working in. The boss and co-workers you wish you would have. The best location and the amount of money you want to make. Your goal is to get your thoughts out of your head and down on paper. This way you can clearly see your thoughts, and once you can see them, you can do something with them.  Do not screen or talk yourself out of your ideas as you write. What would make you happy is inside you. You just need to open the cage door so it can get out.

2. Listen To Your Answer

The pathway to a fulfilling career is when you listen to yourself. Think back to a time in your career when you did listen. Did things work out well? I have a feeling the answer is yes. Now, recall a time when you did not listen to your inner voice. I bet things worked out differently. No matter what messages you've heard when you were younger, or now as an adult, they are just someone's opinion. People have their own perspectives and experiences and we can learn from them. Sometimes someone's words of wisdom can be very helpful in our journey to a great career. But ultimately the person you need to listen to is yourself. You won't be happy in your career until you do.

3. Expect To Be Misunderstood

This way, it won't surprise you. I know it's hard when you are going after a goal and people don't approve of what you are doing. Or, they don't give you the support and reinforcement you need to achieve it. The people in your life mean a lot to you, and their words of encouragement can make a difference. But if you are waiting until everyone rallies behind you before you act, you may be waiting a long time. I believe that the people in our lives mean well and usually do come from a good place when giving advice. But, they are not you. They don't have the same dreams as you, and as a result, may not understand them. When you expect that not everyone will understand you, then you can learn to rely on yourself. And when you have those moments of doubt, (we all do) you can rely on the person who knows you best, and that person is you.

Getting approval from yourself takes courage and I know you have that courage in you. Good luck.

So, what do you say? You only have one life to live, so it might as well be a life you love!

Check out this video on creating life boards"


Deborah Brown-Volkman, PCC, is president of Surpass Your Dreams, a career, life, and mentor coaching company, and author of "Coach Yourself To A New Career," "Don't Blow It! The Right Words For The Right Job" and "How To Feel Great At Work Everyday."
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Listen, Entrepreneurs: Here’s How to Find Funding…

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